4 Steps to Creating a Premise that Delivers What the Reader's Brain is Wired to Crave

4 Steps to Creating a Premise that Delivers What the Reader's Brain is Wired to Crave

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  • You have an idea for a novel, but no idea how to start
  • You have written a few chapters of a novel but now feel stuck
  • You have received feedback that the middle of their story sags or that your ending doesn't deliver an emotional punc
  • You are continually rejected by agents or editors and have no idea why


The most common mistake writers make happens long before they ever set pen to paper. It's the belief that great writing is what hooks readers – beautiful prose, fabulous sentences, lyrical metaphors. Not so. Are those things important? You bet. But they're not what hooks and holds readers. Turns out, what grabs readers is the story beneath the words. Without a story, great writing just sits there, like a beautifully rendered bowl of wax fruit. The good news is that the brain is hardwired to crave certain specific things in every story it encounters, whether it's a literary novel or a mass-market thriller (yes, they're the same things regardless the genre), which means that anyone can learn them, master them, and so write a story that has more punch and more impact than anything they've written before.

In this presentation, instructor and story expert Lisa Cron, author of Wired for Story, reveals exactly what the brain is hungry for and why, and then walk you through four steps to create a premise that delivers these elements. You'll learn how to properly frame the “what if" that sparks every premise; how to zero in on exactly who your protagonist is; how to find an opening that instantly starts the clock ticking; and how to unearth your protagonist's internal struggle, which the plot will then put to the test. Stop writing blind. There's no reason to spend months (or years) rooting around in your plot, hoping to find a story. Arm yourself with a little brain science, a lot of story know-how, and you'll go into your next novel more confident, in control and inspired.

Runtime: 110 minutes


  • Why knowing a little brain science is the most important information a novelist can have
  • What the reader's brain craves in every story, and what keeps them reading
  • Why rooting around in your plot for your story is a fruitless task
  • Why writing a premise will save you months (if not years) of time
  • The four steps to writing a premise that can serve as the foundation of your entire novel
  • How nailing your premise allows you to be more creative when you write
  • How to use your premise as a yardstick to keep your story on track

Lisa Cron is the author of Wired for Story: The Writer's Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence (Ten Speed Press), and her video tutorial Writing Fundamentals: The Craft of Story can be found at Lynda.com. She has worked in publishing at W. W. Norton, as an agent at the Angela Rinaldi Literary Agency, as a producer on shows for Showtime and CourtTV, and as a story consultant for Warner Brothers and the William Morris Agency. Her passion has always been story, and she currently works as a story coach helping writers, nonprofits and journalists wrangle the story they're telling onto the page. Since 2006 she's been an instructor in the UCLA Extension Writers' Program.

NOTE: Writer's Digest does not offer refunds for OnDemand Webinars. All sales are final. OnDemand Webinars do NOT include a critique.

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